About Peru

Culina boys at Shapuyo, a native community along the Rio Alto Purus near the Alto Purus Reserved ... rel=
Culina boys at Shapuyo, a native community along the Rio Alto Purus near the Alto Purus Reserved Zone, department Ucayali, Peru.
© WWF-Canon / Andre BARTSCHI

The land of abundance

Peru is home to one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, the Norte Chico civilization. To the Quechua Indians, Peru means ‘land of abundance’, a reference to the natural resources of silver and gold which once built the Inca empire.
A varied geography and climate provide a spectacular backdrop for a rich diversity of ecosystems and a bountiful share of flora and fauna.
 / ©: WWF
Peru
© WWF
Geography & climate
Peru lies on the West coast of South America, facing the South Pacific Ocean. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia and, on the south by Chile. The country covers an area of  1,285,220km2.

The geography of Peru varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast (costa) to the peaks of the Andes mountains in the centre (sierra) and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin to the east (selva), which cover almost 60% of the country. Unlike other equatorial countries, Peru does not have an exclusively tropical climate - the western seaboard is desert, with very low precipitation levels.
Nature
Because of its varied geography and climate, Peru has high biodiversity and contains 14 ecoregions where WWF is actively engaged in conservation activities.

The 67 million ha of tropical forest provide a wealth of ecologically, socially, and economically important goods and services. For example, the forests of Peru are known to hold the last commercially viable population of big-leafed mahogany in the Americas.

Peru hosts about 25,000 plant species, of which 30% are endemic. In terms of fauna, Peru is 1st in number of fish species (close to 2,000 species, 10% of the world total); 2nd in bird fauna (1,736 species); 3rd in amphibians (332 species); 3rd in mammals (460 species); and 5th in reptiles (365 species).
What are the problems? / ©: WWF
What are the problems?
© WWF
What is WWF doing? / ©: WWF
What is WWF doing?
© WWF
Population & religion
The population is estimated to be 28 million. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua and other native languages. Peruvian culture is primarily rooted in Amerindian and Spanish traditions. It has very high cultural diversity with 44 distinct ethnic groups, the vast majority of which are found in the Amazon.

89% of the population is Catholic.

Economy & development
Peru is one of the world’s top producers of silver, copper, lead and zinc. It has a long established petroleum industry and its coastal waters provide excellent fishing grounds.

However, it is a developing country with a poverty level around 50%, and relatively high levels of unemployment. Overdependence on minerals and metals subjects the economy to fluctuations in world prices, and a lack of infrastructure deters trade and investment.
Sources
  • Wikipedia - Peru - Accessed October 5 2007
  • National Geographic - Peru - Accessed October 5 2007
  • World FactBook - Peru - Accessed October 5 2007
  • CBD - Peru - Accessed October 5 2007

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